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Partnership Tax Return Due Date Approaching

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March 15th Partnership Deadline Nearing

The IRS has implemented a significant change to Partnership tax returns.  In past tax seasons, the due date for Partnerships was the same as the due date for personal returns; usually around April 15th.  However, starting for tax year 2016 (calendar year 2017) the new due date is March 15th.

If you file Partnership tax returns In order to avoid processing delays as well as any late payment penalties and potential interest charges, be sure your return is e-filed or postmarked by 11:59pm on March 15th.

If you have any questions or would like assistance filing your Partnership or other business or personal tax returns, please contact us toll free at (888) APRIL-15 or contact us via the web.

Regardless Of “Trumpcare” Outcome, “Obamacare” Being Starved To Death

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Obamacare Vs. Trumpcare

At R&G Brenner, one of our cardinal rules is that we try to remain apolitical. Simply put, the acrimony and division exhibited these last few elections cycles has clearly increased in frequency & intensity. R&G Brenner services thousands of clients across all political spectrums, and it is simply not good business to potentially upset even one of our clients.  However, when speaking about a subject like health care, it is impossible not to dive into politics; and this is really is the crux of the problem:  How did health care become such a political lightning rod?  Furthermore, is a “for profit” health care system sustainable or doomed for failure regardless if one thinks “Obamacare” or “Trumpcare” is better?  These questions are all made exponentially more difficult living in a time when “fake news” has distorted fact from fiction.  Nevertheless, here is an attempt at answering these questions, and why the conclusion will show that regardless of the ultimate outcome of “Trumpcare”, “Obamacare” is under attack from many different angles & being starved; all but ensuring it’s failure.

Obamacare

A quick trip down memory lane:  The year was 2009.  President Obama was greeted with the worst recession the U.S. ever experienced.  Stocks plunged. Banks & Financial firms disappeared. Savings evaporated. Millions lost their jobs. Hundreds of thousands walked away from their homes.  It’s easy to forget how serious the state of the global economy was in.  On the surface, it was puzzling to many pundits and pols alike why Obama’s first order of business would be health care reform as opposed to focusing on the economy.  However, when you look at the data that health care expenditures made up a whopping 16.5% of the U.S. GDP in 2009, health care premiums were skyrocketing every year, millions of Americans could not obtain health care due to preexisting conditions, millions more used the hospital emergency room as their primary health care provider (and many didn’t or couldn’t pay the bills) contributing to the rise in overall costs, it’s not hard to see that health Care reform was not only an economic issue, but also a moral one.  I think everyone would agree that no American should ever have to decide between living under crippling debt…or dying.  Obama decided that he would expend his political capital on Health Care reform; and expend it he did:  Political incitement & fear created a growing chorus of socialism, death panels, birther conspiracy theories, Obama negotiating in “secret”, “ramming it down the American people’s throat” & “keep the government out of my Medicare” (Medicare is government run) which eventually gave rise to the Tea Party movement and ultimately cost the Democrats majorities in both the House & Senate. While the truth of these claims can (and have been) debated ad nausea, what can not be debated is that these were clearly politically effective tactics.  Nevertheless, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law and was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court.  It has been a political lightning rod ever since.

Trumpcare

Fast forward 8 years and enter “Trumpcare”; currently known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA).   On the campaign trail and throughout the early days of his administration, President Trump has called Obamacare a “disaster” and promised to replace it with something “terrific“: more choices, cheaper plans, greater coverage & “insurance for everybody”.  These lofty promises would be considered extremely difficult even with a unified party. However, not much is known about Trumpcare. Why?  Well, because nobody really knows what in it yet as it was negotiated in secret and rammed through committees in the dead of night; all before the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assesses the bill.  This irony is not lost on Democrats or anyone who is watching the GOP engage in the very tactics they howled about when the Democrats were the majority party in power.  But, this type of hypocrisy has become the norm in today’s political landscape. Besides, it is no guarantee that Trump will be able to garner the support he needs from his his own party to pass an Obamacare replacement (and its foolhardy to believe he can rely on any Democratic votes).  Simply put, the steady diet of questionable fear-based claims that were fed to GOP/Tea Party constituents essentially amounted to Obamacare destroying the fabric of American values.  This type of absolutist rhetoric makes compromise not only a dirty word, but down right impossible; not only with bipartisanship, but within the Republican party.  What the recent town halls in Republican districts have shown, is that the fear surrounding an Obamacare repeal and losing health insurance is very real.  While it’s not wise to judge a bill before it’s final form it is very hard to see how Trump will be able to keep his promises of a “terrific” health care plan when his own party is unable to agree & unify behind a legitimate alternative; especially when estimates show up to 10 million may lose their insurance coverage under the AHCA.  This puts the GOP is in a very tenuous position; will they be able to overcome all the roadblocks they have created for Democrats which they now find in their own way and deliver on their promises?  Or will the chickens come home to roost?

A Dangerous Game

Regardless of the fate of an Obamacare replacement, this much is clear:  Republicans are playing a very dangerous game.  “Death panels” never were a real thing.  But if the GOP passes a bill that takes away or makes it impossible for someone previously covered under Obamacare to get insurance, that is playing politics with American’s lives. Trump appears to be discovering that Health Care reform is very complex.  Obamacare is a huge piece of legislation that took months to complete. It became clear after the ACA was implemented, that improvements were needed as the flaws began to reveal themselves.  But at this point, bipartisanship changes to a a law that passed with a single Republican vote was a fantasy.  Rather, Republicans dug in their heals and tried & failed to get Obamacare repealed…62 times.  Republican resistance centered around a) making Democrats own Obamacare entirely; something they proclaimed would be an immediate failure and b) accepted dogma that everything the government does is bad and everything the private sector does is good.  While there are certainly valid reasons to pare down government, the notion that EVERYTHING the government does is bad has proven to be false: Police & Firemen do not ask if you paid your taxes before running into a burning building or replying to a distress call…and nor should they.  But this is the corner the GOP has painted themselves into.  As a result, since Obamacare’s inception, more and more insurance companies have left the insurance exchange markets.  Those that railed against Obamacare have warned for years of a “Death Spiral”; that costs and care would spiral out of control and lead to Obamacare’s demise.  However, doing nothing to improve the law and making it unattractive for insurers to stay in the exchanges was also good way to ensure this self-fulfilling prophesy.  Nevertheless, the “death spiral” didn’t occur; even with this methodical chipping at the foundation which the ACA was built upon, Obamacare still survives…that is until now.

One of the most contentious (and very important) aspects of the ACA is the individual mandate; that those of a certain age must obtain health insurance or pay a penalty on their tax returns for failing to carry insurance.  These penalties gradually increased and maxed out this tax year at $2,085 per family.  This negative-incentive was essential to a) ensuring the pool of insured was large enough and comprised of younger & healthy individuals to make it attractive for health insurance companies to cover higher risk individuals (i.e. those with preexisting conditions) and b) for those that opted to forego insurance, the assessed penalties (which would be reflected on their annual tax returns) would cover the subsides issued to lower-income taxpayers.  Without the individual mandate a “death spiral” would be inevitable.  As such, the IRS very quietly announced the following a few weeks ago:

“…The individual shared responsibility provision requires you and each member of your family to do at least one of the following:

  • Have qualifying health coverage called minimum essential coverage
  • Qualify for a health coverage exemption
  • Make a shared responsibility payment with your federal income tax return for the months that you did not have coverage or an exemption…

This year, the IRS put in place system changes that would reject tax returns during processing in instances where the taxpayer didn’t provide information related to health coverage….However, the Jan. 20, 2017, executive order directed federal agencies to exercise authority and discretion available to them to reduce potential burden.‎ Consistent with that, the IRS has decided to make changes that would continue to allow electronic and paper returns to be accepted for processing in instances where a taxpayer doesn’t indicate their coverage status…”

In other words, the IRS has interpreted Trump’s executive order and will no longer reject tax returns that do not indicate their insurance coverage status.  Furthermore, Trump has indicated he may not to enforce the individual mandate. Critically, the decision to Repeal, Replace or do nothing to Obamacare is irrelevant. Coupled with the insurance companies fleeing the exchange markets, failure to enforce the individual mandate will surely spell the death knell of Obamacare.

Why is this so dangerous?  Well, In the 7 years of fighting tooth & nail against anything short of repeal, Republicans did not offer a single alternative plan until they were forced to a couple of weeks ago.  Trump & the GOP has already set the doomsday clock in motion on Obamacare; all without a viable & workable alternative in sight.  Furthermore,  Trump doesn’t seem troubled by this. During a recent meeting with Conservatives, Trump’s nonchalant message was thus: Don’t worry, if our bill fails, we’ll just blame the Democrats.  Not only is this an extremely cynical approach, its extremely irresponsible.

Regardless of political affiliation, as a human being, this should not feel right. Being in the minority “opposition party” has proven to be politically beneficial; its easy to criticize when you are not expected to offer alternatives. However, now that the GOP is in power, will they bare the level of responsibility expected of the majority party.  Early returns suggest they will not.  Will the GOP be able to shirk the blame for destroying Obamacare and pretending it “failed on it’s own”?  Will the GOP decide it is better to let Obamacare fail then to take the political risk of owning their own replacement?  Is it even possible to sustain a “for profit” health insurance system?  Is the only viable solution a single-payer or “Medicare-for-all” system?  Absent a congressional “Kumbaya” moment of coming together for the greater good of the country (which does not seem possible for the foreseeable future), we may soon get the answers to all of these questions.  The only remaining question is: will the majority party in power risk the lives of thousands—even millions—of Americans to reveal these answers?  This is the most frightening question of all.

IRS Now Accepting All Tax Returns

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IRS Now Accepting All Returns

After delays to the start of the tax filing season, and additional delays for tax returns with certain forms like the earned income tax credit & the additional child tax credit, the IRS is now accepting ALL tax returns for processing!

Because of these delays, the IRS has received about 6 million less returns compared to last year (down over 17%).  This means tax professionals and the IRS will be very busy for the next 3-5 weeks.  We encourage all new & repeat clients of R&G Brenner to schedule their appointments as soon as possible in order to get their preferred date & time slot; we expect heavy traffic in our offices right up until April 18th.

Some additional tax related information:

  1. What Should I Bring To My Tax Appointment?
  2. Current Promotions & Advances
  3. List of R&G Brenner Locations
  4. R&G Brenner Client Rewards; Join & Earn Cash For your Referrals!

Important Tax Information For R&G Brenner Clients

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Dear R&G Brenner Client,

I hope you and your family had a pleasant 2016 and we are looking forward to seeing you again soon. Like last year, we are letting our clients know about what surprises this tax year has in store for us. With the election over and a new incoming administration there is a lot of uncertainty swirling about. Here are some of the important tax changes & information we are aware of that may affect you:

EITC & Child Tax Credits Are Delayed

Yes, unfortunately you read this correctly. The IRS is not processing any refunds with the following tax forms until February 15th, 2017: The Earned Income Tax Credit, Additional Child Tax Credit & The American Opportunity Credit. If you normally file on or around 2/15, this should have little effect on you. However, if you file earlier, I urge you to plan accordingly for this delay & save additional funds if you depend on your tax refund for expenses. We are also expanding our Refund Advance Options to help R&G Brenner clients who may be affected by this (below).

Expanded R&G Brenner Refund Advances

If you rely on your refund, and these delays will seriously affect you, don’t worry; R&G Brenner has multiple refund advances for qualified R&G Brenner clients.  But hurry!  These are limited time offers:

Insurance Premiums Are Increasing Big Time

If you or members of your family did not have health insurance for 2016 be prepared to get hit with the largest penalty yet: $695 per Adult, $347 per Child or 2.5% of your income (whichever is greater). The maximum penalty per family is $2,085. Ouch, this is more than double the penalty for 2015. Even if you have health insurance already, it is worth checking what’s on the exchanges before you renew as premiums are expected to jump over 25% on average in 2017. And with the Affordable Care Act on the chopping block, expect even more confusion. If you’d like any assistance with health insurance, click here to speak with an RGB Health Rep.

$50 CASH per Referral is Back!

Last year we paid out almost $500,000 in CASH to clients just like you, and we are doing it again this year. For every new client you refer, you will get $50 CASH! Unfortunately, many clients did not know about this great promotion, so we are making it even easier: You can now conveniently refer your friends and family online; click here to start referring and earning cash. Remember: There is no limit to how many clients you can refer and as soon as your referral commits to filing with R&G Brenner, you will be notified via email to come pick up your cash. Taxes may never be fun, but they are rewarding with R&G Brenner.

If you’d like to discuss any tax related matter please contact us when you are ready.  You can also schedule an appointment on the right side of this page.  I wish you and your family a very happy new year and we hope to see you and your family in 2017.

Very Truly Yours,

Benjamin K. Brenner
President

Is My Refund Delayed? What Can I Do?

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If you rely on your refund, plan for delays

If you rely on your refund, plan for delays

“Will my refund be delayed this year” is becoming an all too common refrain these days. Delayed e-filing dates, IRS not accepting tax forms & documents not being mailed out on time have all occurred over the last few years and have caused refund delays. However for the 2017 tax filing season (2016 tax year), it looks like we will get hit with all three of these scenarios at once:

Electronic Filing Date Delayed

This tax year, E-filing will begin January 23rd, 2017.  Electronic filing has historically began around January 15th.  However, over the past few years, these dates have been pushed back from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, so this is becoming common practice by the IRS.  Returns may be filed before this date, however the IRS will not process them until 1/23/17.

IRS Delaying Processing of Popular Tax Credits

The IRS has announced that the following tax credit forms will not be accepted for processing until February 15th, 2017:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC)
  • The American Opportunity Credit (AOTC).

This is a nationwide law change required by Congress in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act; this is not a company or state change. If you normally file your taxes around this time (2/15/17), this delay should have a minimal impact on you.  However, if you tend to file early and/or have plans for your tax refund in advance, R&G Brenner suggests that you prepare yourself accordingly.  If you are unable to save funds, don’t worry, you can apply for R&G Brenner’s refund advances & referral rewards for CASH! (below).

R&G Brenner Refund Advances

If you rely on your refund, and these delays will seriously affect you, don’t worry; R&G Brenner has multiple refund advances for qualified R&G Brenner clients:

R&G Brenner Referral Rewards

Taxes may never be fun, but they are rewarding with R&G Brenner on your team.  Last year we paid out over $100,000 in CASH for client referrals.  Get $50 CASH for every new client you refer to R&G Brenner; NO LIMIT!  Click here to start earning today!

While we can’t control IRS delays, we can offer our clients a little relief from these delays.  Become an R&G Brenner client and receive the benefits.  Schedule an appointment today for a FREE estimate or call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.

 

Employers Must Provide W2s & 1099s By January 31st

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The IRS has a new due date requirement of 1/31/17 for employers to provide W2s & 1099s to employees & contractors.  Traditionally, 1099s were allotted more time to be delivered.  Not so for 2017 (tax year 2016).  Here are some more popular forms that must be released by 1/31:

By January 31 (Note new due dates for Tax Year 2016 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and Form 1099, Miscellaneous Income with Box 7 entries)

This is welcome news as the start of tax season has been delayed until 1/23 and popular tax credits cannot be filed until 2/15.

Professional Tax Preparers Wanted

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R&G Brenner is seeking experienced professional tax preparers for the 2017 tax season. Full & part time positions available in New York City, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx & Long Island.

Competitive commission & bonus structures available.

All applicants must have:

  • Current IRS PTIN number
  • Current NY State Registration number
  • Required NY State Annual Continuing Educations (CE) Credits Hours

If you have any questions or would like to apply for a position, please contact/send your resume to info@rgbrenner.com or call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.  Hurry, limited number of positions available.

Since 1941, R&G Brenner has been a family business serving the NY metro area.  We currently operate 30 privately owned retail tax office locations. We are not a franchise.

Will My Refund Be Delayed This Year?

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If your rely on your refund, plan for delays

If your rely on your refund, plan for delays

“Will my refund be delayed this year” is becoming an all too common refrain these days. Delayed e-filing dates, IRS not accepting tax forms & documents not being mailed out on time have all occurred over the last few years and have caused refund delays. However for the 2017 tax filing season (2016 tax year), it looks like we will get hit with all three of these scenarios at once:

Electronic Filing Start Date

Electronic filing has historically began around January 15th.  However, over the past few years, these dates have been pushed back from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.  This year is notable because as of time of this writing, the IRS has not even formally announced a beginning date to electronic filing!  A commencement date is usually announced weeks if not months earlier.  Therefore, it is a good bet to expect electronic filing to begin after 1/15 this year.  We will post the official start date once the IRS releases it.

IRS Delaying Processing of Popular Tax Credits

The IRS has announced that the following tax credit forms will not be accepted for processing until February 15th, 2017:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC)
  • Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC)
  • The American Opportunity Credit (AOTC).

This is a nationwide law change required by Congress in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act; this is not a company or state change. If you normally file your taxes around this time (2/15/17), this delay should have a minimal impact on you.  However, if you tend to file early and/or have plans for your tax refund in advance, R&G Brenner suggests that you prepare yourself accordingly. For example: if you rely on your refund for critical services (rent, utilities, etc), we suggest that you save some funds to carry you through any potential delays.

IRS Delays Form 1095 Distribution Deadline

The original deadline for distributing Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C to individuals was January 31, 2017. The new deadline is March 2, 2017. The extension provides Applicable Large Employers (ALEs), self-insured group health plans, and health insurance carriers more time to populate and distribute the forms.  Since a final tax return cannot be filed without these health care related reporting, this too may delay the filing of your return and receipt of your refund.

These delays will affect taxpayers who claim popular credits & professional tax preparers the most as it may create a backlog and crush of appointments later on in the year.  R&G Brenner suggests that you bring with you all supporting documentation for the above tax credits which will allow for the accurate preparation of your return and help minimize any potential delays.

If you have any additional questions about this or anything else, please feel free to contact an R&G Brenner professional via the web, or by calling us toll free: (888) APRIL-15.

How To Protect My Financial Information

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10 Tips To Protect Your Taxpayer & Financial Info

10 Tips To Protect Your Taxpayer & Financial Info

October is Cyber Security Awareness month, and the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance has released a list of 10 tips that all taxpayers should know in order to protect their financial information and keep it from falling into the wrong hands:

1. Be wary of aggressive phone scams – Be sure to only give personal information—including social security numbers—to someone you trust. Remember, the NYS Tax Department and the IRS will contact you by mail first and will never threaten you over the phone or demand payment be made through MoneyGram, Western Union, or other wire transfer services; or using iTunes, Greendot, or other cash or gift cards.

2. Avoid phishing scams – Taxpayers may receive emails with authentic-looking government logos that offer assistance in settling fake tax issues. The NYS Tax Department and IRS will never request personal or financial information by email.

3. Protect your computer – Ensure that your computer is secure when accessing your financial accounts online by looking for “https,” with an “s” after the “http,” in the website address.

4. Use strong passwords – Use a combination of upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers and symbols when creating a new password. Don’t use your name, birthdate, or common words. Use a different password for each of your accounts.

5. Use secure wireless networks – Always encrypt your wireless network with a strong password. Never access your personal accounts on a public Wi-Fi network.

6. Review bank accounts and statements – Check your credit card and banking statements regularly to spot any suspicious activity.

7. Review credit reports annually – Review each of your credit reports annually to spot any new lines of credit that you didn’t apply for or authorize. This can be a sign that a thief has stolen your identity and opened up a credit card, for example, in your name.

8. Think before you post – The more information and photos you share via social media, including current and past addresses, or names of relatives, can provide scammers possible answers to your security questions or otherwise help them access your accounts.

9. Secure tax documents – Store hard copies of your federal and NYS tax returns in a safe place. Digital copies should also be saved. Shred documents that contain personal information before throwing them away.

10. Review and respond to all NYS Tax Department communications– You should review and respond to all notices sent from the Tax Department. Any unexpected correspondence from the Tax Department can be a potential sign that your identity has been stolen. It’s important that you contact the Tax Department immediately to confirm any liabilities.

If you believe that you’ve been contacted by a cyber criminal attempting a scam, have been the victim of fraud or identity theft, or suspect a tax preparer is engaging in illegal activities, visit the Tax Department’s Report fraud, scams, and identity theft webpage to learn how to report it. The Tax Department takes this type of illegal activity seriously, promptly reviews each compliant, and takes corrective action when appropriate.

If you believe you are victim of identity theft and or your financial information has been compromised, please contact an R&G Brenner professional after your report your situation to the authorities.  We may be able to help you to minimize any potential damage.  Remember, NEVER send W2s, 1099s, tax returns or other private information via email; always use a secure file transfer when sending sensitive documents over the internet.  All R&G Brenner professionals offer free secure file transfer solutions to our clients.

Indian Police Arrest 70 In IRS Calling Scam

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Indian Police Take Down IRS Scam Call Center

Indian Police Take Down IRS Scam Call Center

Police in India have arrested at least 70 people involved with impersonating IRS agents at a fake call center in an attempt to defraud U.S. Taxpayers.  Hundreds more are being held for questioning.

The popularity of this scam has grown exponentially as nearly every taxpayer has experienced a call like this first hand, or know a friend or acquaintance that has received calls like this. Over the last 3 years alone, the IRS has received nearly 1 Million complaints of similar low-tech scams which cost taxpayers over $26 Million.  It has been previously reported that these calls have originating from countries like India, Pakistan & Russia:

According to police in Mumbai, the yearlong scam involved running fake call centers which sent voice mail messages telling U.S. nationals to call back because they owed back taxes.

Those who called back and believed the threats would fork out thousands of dollars to “settle” their case, Mumbai police officer Parag Marere said Thursday.

The scam brought in more than $150,000 a day, Marere said without giving a total sum. If the scam netted that amount daily, it would have made almost $55 million in one year.

Some victims were also told to buy gift vouchers from various companies, and hand over the voucher ID numbers which the impostors then used to make purchases, Marere said.

Police said they are likely to file charges against many of the 600 or more people still being questioned on suspicion of running the fake call centers, housed on several stories of a Mumbai office building…

Indian media reports said 70 percent of the scam’s proceeds were retained by the suspects in India, while the rest was paid to collaborators in the U.S.

Indian news broadcaster NDTV reported that one U.S.-based company allegedly collected the victims’ personal information and passed it to the fake call centers.

Here are some tips to avoid being the victim of a phone scam:

  • The IRS rarely if ever initiates calls to taxpayers.  If you owe tax money they will formally notify taxpayers with a mailed letter to the address listed on the tax return
  • The IRS cannot demand payment on the spot; the IRS also offers payment plans
  • The IRS does not request a specific type of payments like gift cards or prepaid debit cards
  • The IRS will never ask for credit card information over the phone

This particular call center was working with U.S. based criminals who provided the taxpayer contact information to this call center.  Protecting your private personal information is the first step in avoiding these types of scams.  NEVER provide personal information over the phone. NEVER e-mail information that contains social security numbers, bank account number, credit card numbers, user names or passwords.  R&G Brenner offers secure file transfer services free-of-charge to all of it’s clients who want a digital solution for sending tax related documents.  All tax professionals who are serious about protecting their clients private tax information—whether independent, franchise or CPA— should offer a similar service.  If you’d like more information about how R&G Brenner protects client data, feel free to contact us at (888) APRIL-15 or by clicking here.

Lastly, if you feel that you are becoming a target for a scam like this, you can report it to the IRS by calling: (800) 366-4484.

Source: ABC27.com

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